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The Dictator’s Handbook Why Bad Behavior Is Almost Always Good Politics Bruce Bueno De Mesquita and Alastair Smith

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Interesting book about the history of politics, includes examples of leaders, some of whom are dictators from all across the world and speculates reasons behind their behaviour and the effects of this. Outlines that without essential supporters the leader would be finished.

Breaks this down into three groups, which book describes as the three dimensions to politics:

Interchangeables: the voters are the nominal selectorate

Influentials: the electors of the electoral college that really choose the leader

Essentials: the winning coalition support for a candidate that translates into a presidential win in the electoral college

Different countries have different systems. In essence book argues that a leader must make sure their essentials and ideally the influentials are looked after well to keep them in power. If you can change the relative size of interchangeables, influentials, and essentials this can make a real difference in basic political outcomes.

Suggests that a dictator / president / prime minister needs to firstly take care of themselves and their essential supporters first rather than the needs of the country to stay in power. If a leader is ill, for example with a terminal illness supporters will often move their support to a leader they perceive will serve them better in the longer term.

To keep power:

Rule 1: Keep your winning coalition as small as possible

Rule 2: Keep your nominal selectorate as large as possible.

Rule 3: Control the flow of revenue

Rule 4: Pay your key supporters just enough to keep them loyal.

Rule 5: Don’t take money out of your supporter’s pockets to make other people’s (the interchangeables) lives better.

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